So, here we go again. As they fire up the boilers and pump the bellows to get the ticketing website up and running, folks are poised, virtual elbows sharpened, ready to do battle for the remaining 55,000 tickets for the Commonwealth Games which are only weeks away.
But it doesn’t need to be like this. And the way in which the team organising the Games – every single senior staff member a man, by the way – has gone about ticketing has been a mess of Glasgow 2014’s own making. Worse, it threatens the success of our – because they are ours – Commonwealth Games.
There are folk like me sitting on tickets they do not need and cannot physically use because we have been told they cannot be put back in the pot. Let me explain.
I came up with a wheeze to optimise our chance of getting tickets. On the last afternoon of the ballot, my pops and I picked out sports and sessions over 2 days we wanted to try for. We would apply for more than one sport, even if they overlapped, and we’d both apply for exactly the same tickets. Our rationale was that we’d be unlikely to get everything we applied for. And even if we did, there would be a facility not to claim them or put them back. Or something.
Our applications went in right on the wire. In true family fashion. And unlike everyone else it would seem, we got lots of tickets. For a whole range of sports. We even got two lots of the same ones.
Then began a farce of emails trying to find out how to give some of them back, so others could get them. Last October, we were told that they had no plans to do this, but might do something in April.
In February, we tried again. This was the reply:
“Thank you for contacting the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games Ticketing Customer Service team.
If you purchase one or more tickets those tickets may only be used by you, a family member, friend or colleague who is known to you personally. The transfer of a ticket in this manner shall not contravene the Ticketing Terms and Conditions providing the payment you receive doesn’t exceed the face value of the ticket and the family member, friend or colleague accepts the Ticketing Terms and Conditions.
You may be asked to provide the name and address and any other ID details as required, of ticket holders at any time by an official steward or employee of Glasgow 2014 or the venue owner or police officer.
Should sessions sell out, Glasgow 2014 may open an official ticket resale platform in 2014. This will be the only authorised way to buy tickets from people offering their tickets for resale.
Further details regarding ticket resale will be announced later in 2014.”
We tried again. Because they seemed to be missing the point. The tune changed and was decidedly snippy in the reply received in May:
“Thank you for contacting The Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games Ticketing Customer Service Team.
We are sorry to hear that you applied for too many tickets for The Games.
Our ticketing terms and conditions clearly state that once tickets have been purchased they cannot be cancelled or returned and when your application was submitted you agreed to those terms.
However, we have recently confirmed that a ticket resale programme shall be launched in June 2014, this will be the only authorised means to resell unwanted tickets.
More information regarding this resale programme shall be confirmed in the coming weeks. We would recommend that you frequently check your email and our website http://www.glasgow2014.com to ensure that you do not miss out on any updates.”
So, following months of dithering there will now be a resale programme but it’s bound to come far too late for people who will have given up trying to get tickets and made other plans for holiday time in July.
And still, Glasgow 2014 seems to not get it. We knew what we were doing. Like everyone else, we knew we were applying for more than we could use in the hope of getting some. And on the assumption, that as with other major sporting events, unwanted tickets could be put back in the pot.
But the point is that it’s not about getting our money back, but about ensuring that the stadia are full to bursting.
I don’t much care about the cost, though the pops might disagree with me on that one. I’ll happily pay more than my share if it helps the Games to be a success. But it won’t.
Because what counts in terms of success, when the events are beamed around the world, is bums on seats. And the entire ticketing fiasco risks making the Games a failure because of empty seats, particularly at the less popular sports, at which we – and presumably others – were spectacularly successful in getting tickets for.
Glasgow 2014 also doesn’t have a clue how many tickets are going to come back in, at this late stage, for resale in June. If it’s any more than say 10,000 then they’ve got another PR disaster on their hands. To add to all the other ones.
And worse, a very real risk that they cannot sell them all, that some folk just don’t bother putting their excess back and we have empty seats at all those fabulous stadia. The biggest shame of that would be for the athletes for whom this is a key moment in their careers. Who wants to be turning out, having trained for years for the moment, to no applause?
At this late stage, I won’t be bothering. After the shambles of the last couple of weeks, who’d trust them to get this bit of the ticket sale right?
I’ll go with the first advice from the Customer Services team and make them available to friends and family. Through this blog. And raise some money for good causes in the process.
Watch this space if you’re still keen to go to Glasgow2014.